It has begun! We are 8 days into the new school year and it appears that we are going to survive. The girls are adjusting to the new schedule, their teachers and their classwork. We are adjusting to all the fall activities, practices, lessons, rehearsals and games. My husband is adjusting to the heavier traffic that comes with September’s return. Everybody has gotten back to their jobs.
The girls’ job is to go to school. My husband’s job is to go to work. Both jobs involve certain expectations, duties, responsibilities. For the most part, those expectations are fairly clear and the consequences for failing to live up to those expectations are clear as well.
Prior to the birth of my second child, I had always been employed or in school. One of the challenges of choosing to stay home with my kids is adjusting to that lack of clear goals and objectives. Don’t get me wrong; I am happy with the choice we made. For our family, it made sense for one of us to devote ourselves full-time to raising the kids. I love being a stay-home mom and it was and continues to be the right choice for our family. However, this time of year, when the girls return to school and the pace picks up at Steve’s office, I often find myself pondering this question–what exactly is my “job”?
When the girls were little and home with me all day, I feel like my job was basically survival. More specifically, survival with the least amount of permanent damage to our collective mental health. It was also nice if our house came through the day with minimal destruction. There is no one I admire more than the moms who are spending all day every day with toddlers and babies. In my opinion, it was the hardest job I ever had….including the time I worked with schizophrenic methamphetamine users. Actually, there is a great deal of similarity between a 3 year old and a schizophrenic methamphetamine addict 🙂 Generally, however, it is considered poor form to give a toddler anti-psychotic medications, so you are left to deal with the insanity in more creative ways. ANYWAY, in those early days, my role felt more clear….or maybe I didn’t have much time to think about it very much!
Now that the girls are older and gone all day, my job is less clear. They don’t need me any less, they just need me differently. I know part of my “job description” is taking care of them…providing for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. I believe part of my job is providing some of those things for my husband as well. But if taking care of my family is my job, how do I know if I am doing it well? Whose subjective opinion determines my job success? Mine, the girls’, Steve’s? Perhaps “taking care of my family” is too limiting as a description of what I do…too vague…too subjective.
As I travel down this path with God, I learn new vocabulary that impacts my worldview. One of the words that I have been exploring lately is “servant.” Not a new word, but a new understanding of what it means in terms of my relationship with God. Jesus has been described as a servant king…two words that, on the surface, seem to be mutually exclusive. Yet, as I learn more about Jesus, I get glimpses of what that means. As I wrote in a previous entry, Jesus shows us that loving means serving. Period.
On further reflection, I guess I am pretty lucky. I can take my job description straight from God’s Word because I don’t have the constraints of school or work requirements that might seem to get in the way of the job that God calls all of us to do. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. There it is…my job description…and, whether you work outside the home or not, your job description. And, as we have already established, loving means serving. Certainly, my “neighbor” would also include my family. I serve my family when I buy groceries, fix meals, do laundry, help with Algebra. I serve my family when I listen to them share what was hard for them that day. I serve my church family, my community and, hopefully, the Kingdom of God when I do the various volunteer activities with which I am involved. In the end, my fervent hope and desire is that all of this results in serving God…showing Him how much I love Him and want to obey Him.
For me, the word “servant” changes my view of everything. As I wrap my heart and mind around the example Jesus set for us, being a servant sounds like the most joyful way to live. I don’t feel that way all the time, but Jesus is still working on me. I don’t want to serve grudgingly, but from a place of joy. Being a joyful servant makes even the mundane parts of my “job” feel like a gift. Does that make any sense to anyone else?
So back to my previous question, how do I know if I am doing my job well? Whose opinion matters? If my job is being a joyful, loving servant, what is the criteria for success? It seems to me that it all goes back to my relationship with God…anything that draws me closer to Him is a good thing. Anything that leads me away from His presence means I am headed down the wrong path. His opinion is the only one that matters, although sometimes He may express His opinion through a loved one! Success is measured in terms of relationship….with others and with God. That’s ultimately all that matters.
I like my job.